God Bless That Tarrant County Jury

Tomorrow the fit Tarrant County father who has been separated from his thirteen year-old daughter for more than three years will be reunited with her. What some have called a “legal kidnapping” by a judge (who has done this before) who issued a temporary order to remove her from the father has been reversed after a 10-day trial. The temporary order was issued on the basis that he was an “international flight risk” with absolutely no evidence presented to support that allegation. [Read more...]

Justice!!

Yesterday afternoon the jury in the parental rights trial in Ft. Worth rendered their decision. In a 11-1 vote they reversed the ruling of the judge in the three year-old “temporary” order removing the daughter from the fit father. She is to be reunited with her father on Tuesday. This judge has a pattern of abusing fit parents like this. [Read more...]

Final Arguments in Parental Rights Trial

Wednesday final witnesses were called in the Fort Worth Parental Rights Trial. As you will recall, a fit father is trying to regain possession of his daughter after three years with the grandparents under a judge’s “temporary orders.” A home school leader and friend of this father was stellar in her testimony and was not intimidated by the harsh treatment by the grandparents’ attorneys. [Read more...]

Parental Rights Trial May go to Jury Today

The parental rights trial in Fort Worth enters what may be its final day today. The fit father lost his daughter after he moved with his daughter and missed nine days of court-ordered grandparent visitation. The usual court response to this action would be to place the daughter with the grandparents for nine days and then place her back with the father. [Read more...]

Neighbors Earn – Home Schoolers Get Harassed

The Mansfield and Arlington Independent School Districts have launched a new program in conjunction with “Crime Stoppers.” What is this new program to stop crime? It is the “You Earn, They Learn, Stop Truancy” plan to “utilize a reward system for trying to combat truancy.”

The idea is really simple. In fact, it sounds like something Adolf Hitler may have used. Neighbors should be on the lookout for children who are not in school and when they see school-age children who may not be in school, they are encouraged to call Tarrant County “Crime Stoppers” and give them the address of the children. “Crime Stoppers” will then call the school district, which will investigate, and if the child is truant, the government informer will get $20. But wait, there is more; if the child has been truant for “several days,” the informant gets $40.

What this will likely result in is home school families in Tarrant County being contacted by one of these school districts to ask why their child is not “in school.” Home schoolers should respond politely and tell the attendance officer that they are teaching their child(ren) at home. Since home schooling is clearly legal in Texas, and since the commissioner of education has given clear direction to public school districts on how to deal with home school families, parents should ask the school official to present his request in writing. They should then simply respond, by certified mail, with a letter of assurance as outlined by the commissioner of education. Once the school receives this letter, unless they have evidence that the assurance given is not accurate, they must drop their inquiry. If they persist in harassing the home school family, THSC will remind them of the law and threaten legal action if necessary.

Home Schooling On Trial

The trial in Fort Worth in which a fit father is seeking to regain possession of his daughter finished up its first week on Friday with the grandparents calling the court-appointed psychologist to the stand. He amended his report just before the trial began to allege that the daughter told him she wanted to stay with the grandparents and have only “supervised” visitation with her father. His testimony included what appeared to be fabricated statements by the father, and at one point he made statements that were against the parameters laid out by the judge. The courtroom was cleared as the attorneys for the father explained that what the psychologist had just done was cause for a mistrial and if the father asked the judge he would be required to declare a mistrial.

Since the grandparents’ strategy all along has been to delay and drag out this process (and make it more expensive), some believe this may have been an intentional action seeking a mistrial and requiring the process to begin again, delaying the return of this father’s daughter to him. The father, therefore, chose not to ask for a mistrial, and the judge directed the jury to disregard the comments from the psychologist.

Three years ago the mother of this young girl died from cancer, and the father moved with his daughter to Idaho planning to homeschool her in the new school year. That plan was cut short as the current judge issued an order to remove the child and place her “temporarily” with the grandparents. If there was ever a doubt that home schooling was an issue in the grandparents’ disagreement with the father’s parenting decisions, it has been removed during this trial as virtually every witness for the grandparents has argued against home schooling this child. In fact, it is almost as if home schooling is on trial.

The trial continues on Monday as the attorneys for the grandparents will begin to close their case and will likely call the grandfather and/or the father to the stand. Please pray for the father as his testimony on the stand will be a key element in the trial. Pray also for the attorneys representing the father and for the jury. Home schoolers have been in court observing throughout the trial. If you are in the Fort Worth area, Monday or Tuesday would be a very good time to attend and quietly observe and pray.

Parental Rights Jury Trial Update

The trial began on Monday with the selection of the jury, and in the course of asking questions of potential jury members it appeared that 15% of the jury pool had either homeschooled before or had been homeschooled themselves. While the grandparents’ attorneys obviously did not want any of these folks to be chosen for the jury, some actually were. [Read more...]

Ft. Worth Trial Update

The first day of the trial in Fort Worth began with a motion by the attorneys for the grandparents asking the judge to post a notice for observers in the court to maintain “decorum.” Warn people not to cause noise or make any facial expressions or other actions that might influence the jury, and no cameras or other devices. This admonition appeared to be directly aimed at home school families who were in court to observe in silence and to pray. [Read more...]

Parental Rights on Trial – Begins Next Monday in Fort Worth

A year ago we began to help a member of our association, a single father who had been struggling to regain possession of his daughter for almost three years. We’ve talked about his story on a number of occasions and about how the legal system is being used to violate the rights of this fit father, taking away his daughter because her grandparents simply disagree with how he wants to rear his daughter. [Read more...]

Home Schooling – Know the Law!

The beginning of the school year is just around the corner, and the usual number of back-to-school articles is beginning to appear along with articles about home schooling. It is important for parents to be sure they are getting accurate information because often information stated as fact is not correct.

A case in point is a July 8 article in the Weatherford Democrat about home schooling. Unfortunately, the reporter got her information from a national organization and made some statements concerning requirements for home schooling that are incorrect for Texas.

She stated, “Children enrolled in homeschool are required to participate in school a certain number of days or hours per calendar year. Most states require that this amount of time be equivalent to the time students in public schools spend. . . . [F]ailure to complete the necessary time for school could result in a truancy charge against the child.”

While the reporter states correctly earlier in her article that home schools in Texas are legally private schools, she does not clarify that the state of Texas does not regulate, monitor, or oversee private schools. Home school students in Texas are not “required to participate in school a certain number of days or hours per calendar year.” Texas home schoolers cannot be prosecuted for truancy on the basis of how many days or hours students are taught. Any school district official who files charges of truancy on that basis will be opening the district up to a very expensive lawsuit filed by the Texas Home School Coalition.

The article’s author also goes on to quote two public school superintendents who raise concerns about whether or not families who withdraw their children to homeschool are actually doing so. One of them even says, “A kid can claim to go to homeschool, but they’re not really getting that education.” The same can be said, of course, for students in public schools. The other public school superintendent says, “Technically they aren’t dropouts, but my main concern is does the family follow through with their education?” These statements show the clear bias that many public school officials have against home schooling and their desire for state regulation and oversight of home schooling. This is ironic given the state of educational results in many public schools and the data from numerous studies showing that home school students score well above the national average on nationally normed standardized tests.

This leads me to another issue of which parents should be aware. As I’ve mentioned earlier, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has updated its policy by which public school officials handle the withdrawal of students from public school in order to homeschool. The reality is that the only thing that has changed is that school officials can no longer simply claim that a parent told them they were going to homeschool their child. They are now required to have that statement from the parent in writing.

While THSC has encouraged parents to withdraw in writing for many years, a number of public schools have been suspected of falsely claiming that dropouts were actually being withdrawn to homeschool. The new policy will solve that public school problem by requiring the official to have a signed statement from every parent who withdraws to homeschool. We are, however, braced for public school officials to now claim, as we have already heard from some sources, that the TEA has changed its policies on withdrawing to homeschool and added some requirements that are clearly not lawful. We will be watching and ready to clarify the law for any uninformed or misinformed school officials and take any action necessary to make sure they follow the law.